Every holidays season for the past six decades, Gozzi’s Turkey Farm in Guilford, Connecticut, has been drawing visitors young and old with its host of decorative turkeys dyed in bright hues of purple, orange, yellow and green.
Bill Gozzi, the farm’s third generation owner, says that the tradition of putting live colored turkeys on display for visitors dates back to the 1940’s, shortly after his grandparents opened the place. It was originally a treat for neighborhood kids, but it grew into something more, and soon visitors from far and wide started visiting the farm to see the dyed turkeys during the Holidays. “My grandmother started it years ago as a fun thing for the kids in the neighborhood, and it caught on and just busloads of kids come now,” Gozzi said. “It’s a tradition for a lot of people. I get a lot of people saying, ‘My grandparents brought me here, and now I’m bringing my kids.'”
Every year, in the first week of November, about a dozen colored turkeys are put in one of the front pens of Gozzi Farm, and remain on display until the place closes down on the day before Christmas. The kids seem to love them, and Gozzi says the birds enjoy all the attention as well. “Believe it or not, they become hams out there after a while. The males strut around, and the females kind of show off. They like the attention.”
Wondering how the turkeys get their bright neon coloring? You’re not the only one, but Bill Gozzi won’t say, claiming that it’s a family secret. He dis mention that it has nothing to do with genetics, though. “Can’t tell you. Family secret,” he told TODAY.com. “Kids ask, ‘Is it in the egg?’ ‘Is it in the feed?’ We just let everybody use their own imagination.”
I did find a blog post on The Kitchn that non-toxic, vegetable-based food dye is applied to the turkeys’ feathers to create the bright neon coloring and that’s it’s all topical and harmless. But I don’t know how reliable this information is.
What I can say is that, while PETA hasn’t showed up at their door, not everyone is happy to see the colored turkeys at Gozzi Farm. Every year, the owners share photos of their colored turkeys on Facebook, and although they always get thousands of likes and shares, they also receive some not-so-positive comments.
“They used to do this to baby chicks back in the 60’s….at the local fair. Have we not evolved at all?” one user wrote.
“I don’t think this is very healthy for the turkeys. If you only sell the white ones, what happens to these poor things? Do they die from cancer??” another person asked.
One thing’s for sure though, for many people, driving out to Gozzi Turkey Farm, in Guilford, to see the multicolored turkeys has become a Thanksgiving tradition, one that’s becoming more popular every year. If you fancy a visit, the place is not too far off of I-95 on Route 1. And don’t worry about driving past it, the brightly dyed birds will surely catch your eye.
Photos: Gozzi Turkey Farm/Facebook